An analysis of Ipso’s judgements archive has found nine occasions where complaints against a variety of EU-related articles were upheld on accuracy grounds.
While several publications feature in the judgements, The Daily and Sunday Express, and their website, had five rulings upheld against its EU coverage between January 1st and June 23rd 2016.
1 “Europe’s leaders have no plan to cut immigration”
A complaint was upheld against The Daily Express over a January 2016 opinion piece in which the author suggested that, if Britain remained in the EU, it would risk a “new migrant disaster”.
The article said 228,000 people born outside of the EU gained access to Britain with European passports on an annual basis.
But Ipso found in favour of the complainant after it was pointed out this figure was a total number of these people living in Britain, not an annual figure.
Ipso, the independent watchdog which counts the majority of the British press among its members, said: “The error which led to the statistic being incorrectly reported represented a failure to take care not to publish misleading information”. The online article was amended.
ABC data found The Daily Express newspaper had an average daily circulation of 421,000 in June 2016.
2 “Now European Union bureaucrats could make Britons put out SEVEN bins every week”
A January 2016 claim on Express.co.uk that the EU could force people to use seven different types of waste receptacle was eventually deleted from the website.
The complainant said the article misrepresented a study into recycling, though the Express said it was merely pointing out what “could” happen should the report lead to changes in rules.
But when Ipso began its investigation in February 2016, “the newspaper confirmed it had removed the article from its website.”
ABC data found Express.co.uk had an average daily audience of 1.8m in June 2016.
3 “EU Law Chief Rules Terrorist’s Criminal Daughter-In-Law Cannot Be Deported”
Ipso upheld a complaint against a Feburary 2016 Daily Telegraph article which suggested an EU lawyer had ruled Abu Hamza’s daughter-in-law couldn’t be deported from Britain.
The article said an Advocate General’s legal opinion at the Court of Justice of the European Union was in fact a “ruling”.
But the complainant pointed out it was the job of the Advocate General is to provide opinions to the Court - and that these opinions do not constitute rulings.
Ipso agreed, and wrote: “The publication of significantly misleading information about the status of the Advocate General’s opinion in the CJEU’s procedure, and the terms of the Advocate General’s opinion, demonstrated a failure to take care not to publish inaccurate information”.
The newspaper later ran a correction.
4 “12M Turks say they’ll come to UK”
The Sunday Express’s claim that 12 million Turks would come to Britain when the country made a deal to join the EU was found to be misleading.
A May 2016 article said an “exclusive poll” had discovered 16 percent of respondents intended to come to the UK once the country joined the bloc. This proportion was crudely extrapolated to the country’s entire population.
Ipso wrote: It was not possible to state on the basis of the results of the poll how many Turkish citizens would want to move to the UK.
The Express accepted its survey question was flawed because it did not ask respondents if they were speaking for themselves or to family members.
The question asked: “if Turkey becomes a full member of the EU, and Britain remains in the EU, would you, or any members of your family, consider relocating to the UK?”
The paper apologised and clarified the error promptly.
5 “EU seeks control of our coasts”
A March 2016 article in the Sunday Express claimed the EU had “plans to seize control of the British coastguard” as part of plans for a Europe-wide border force.
It was later corrected to point out this actually only applied to the Schengen area.
After Ipso began an investigation, the Sunday Express conceded the border force would not affect the UK.
It issued a printed correction and removed the article from its website.
6 “Queen Backs Brexit”
The Sun’s explosive March 2016 exclusive reported two unnamed sources as confirming the Queen had made critical comments about the EU at two private functions.
These claims were carried under the headline: “Queen Backs Brexit”.
Ipso found this was “significantly misleading”.
The watchdog wrote: “It did not follow from the comments the article reported that the Queen wanted the UK to leave the EU as a result of the referendum: that suggestion was conjecture and the Committee noted that none of those quoted in the story were reported as making such a claim.”
Sun editor Tony Gallagher stood by the story, but Ipso demanded the paper publish its adjudication, which it did in full on page two.
In the same edition, however, the Sun wrote in an editorial: “Does the Queen back Brexit? We’re sure she does.”
7 “4 in 5 jobs go to foreign workers”
The Sun published an article in May 2016 which claimed of a “414,000 rise in employment, 80 per cent or 330,000 posts went to foreign-born workers”. It was later ruled inaccurate and misleading by Ipso.
The article used Office for National Statistics data which the agency itself said could not be used to estimate the proportion of new jobs taken by UK and non-UK workers.
This is because the data did not relate to newly created roles, but rather net employment - which showed the number of people entering employment minus the number leaving work.
Ipso said: “The article had given the significantly misleading impression that the ONS figures had indicated that a specific proportion of new jobs in the economy had been taken by foreign-born workers in the past year.”
The Sun amended its online article with a one-line correction.
8 “Amazing things we get back if we leave EU”
A caption in an Express.co.uk gallery of 11 “things we get back” if Britain chose Brexit was deemed inaccurate.
“A dozen eggs: In 2010 the EU said that food could not be sold by number but by weight” was incorrect - in fact, the EU had merely considered a change to food labelling in 2010. No change was made to selling food by number.
It added that four of the captions in the gallery were actually wrong.
It ended: “Given that 4 of the 11 captions were incorrect this gallery has been deleted.”
9 “We’re from Europe – Let us in!”
An article in the Daily Mail said migrants found hiding in the back of a lorry shouted “we’re from Europe - let us in!” when authorities discovered them.
The piece was splashed on the Mail’s front page on 16 June 2016, days before the referendum vote. The article’s fourth paragraph mentioned EU rules on freedom of movement.
But after complaints, amendments to the online version of the article reflected the fact the migrants were in fact from Iraq and Kuwait.
This, the paper said, was “in common with other newspapers and publications”, including The Sun, which had also reported an agency story that the migrants told police they were “from Europe”
Nonetheless, Ipso wrote: “...it was inaccurate to report that the individuals in the lorry had told the police that they were from Europe. While it was clear that they had arrived in the UK via Europe, they had in fact told the police that they were from Iraq and Kuwait.”
The Mail ran a correction a day later, while The Sun ran a correction two days later.